The motivating power of Mother Nature

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For our last full day, Nerissa had a nice long hike planned for us. Ten miles in all, on a trail filled with river views and waterfalls. Originally, we’d planned it with the anticipation of hot weather and taking little dips in the water as needed. But, Mother Nature decided to favor us with cloudy skies instead. We fueled up with a fantastic smoked salmon scramble (roughing it!) and got ready to hit the trail.

Y14-TFhike3The crazy thing about hiking in this area is the diversity of terrain that you go through. We saw everything from lush forest:

Y14-TFhike2To huge fields of granite:

Y14-TFhike4Y14-TFhike5And, of course, there were rest stops/photo ops:

Y14-TFhikeTandIY14-TFhikeEY14-TFhikeTEventually, we joined up with the river and added cool water views to the already interesting granite:

Y14-TFhike14Y14-TFhike8Y14-TFhike10 Y14-TFhike12Y14-TFhike11Y14-TFhike13Erik eventually decided that enough was enough and stayed at a good lunch spot, while the rest of us went on to see Tuolomne Falls. As you might expect, there was a fair bit of climbing involved.

Y14-TFhike6When we got to the falls, Nerissa and I clambered out onto the granite across from the falls, while law-abiding T kept going down the trail. The view down was beautiful, but a bit unnerving:

TF-viewAnd, of course, the falls were breathtaking:

Y14-TFallsNerissa captured this cute photo of me:

Y14-TFallsMeAnd I got this (slightly blurry) shot of her:

Y14-TFhikeNThe more observant folks may have noticed the increasing presence of ominous clouds in the background of my photos. We were definitely concerned about them as we rendezvoused with Erik for lunch. We ate quickly and hit the trail. Of course, there’s only so quickly you can hike this kind of terrain:

Y14-TFhike7We started getting little sprinkles of rain, but nothing too bad. It wasn’t until we got back to camp that the rain seemed to be getting serious. We decided to investigate Tuolomne Lodge for drink/dry hangout options, but that turned out to be wildly mis-named. It was then decided to head down to Lee Vining, a tiny town next to Mono Lake. The rain continued to get stronger, so it was definitely the right call. We ended up eating dinner at a weird gas station restaurant and then getting a glass of wine at the bar at Mono Lake Inn, a surprisingly pretty spot, should you find yourself in the area.

When we got back to camp, we were greeted by an unbelievable sunset (the combo of the wildfire smoke and rain clouds?)

Y14-Sunset

It was a bummer not to have a last campfire night, but it was a fun adventure in that “making the best of it” way. We turned in early and fell asleep to the soothing sounds of rain on tent.

The next morning it was overcast with showers in the forecast. We discussed the possibility of doing a short hike, but it was generally agreed to just head for home rather than chance getting caught in the rain. We stopped for a surprisingly delicious lunch in the tiny town of Oakdale and made it to Erik & Nerissa’s place with plenty of time to shower and repack our crap. I’d scheduled T and my flight for later in the evening, so we had time for a nice walk and yummy dinner before going to the airport. It was nice to have a leisurely transition to civilization.

I’m so grateful to have been able to go on this impromptu adventure. Many, many thanks to Erik & Nerissa for inviting us and being such magnificent hosts. I’m hoping this will be the first of many fun travel adventures to come.

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